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$8.1bn repatriation: MTN, CBN finally settle out of court

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Telecommunications firm, MTN Nigeria Communications Limited, said on Thursday that it had reached an agreement with the Central Bank of Nigeria over the $8.1bn being demanded from it by the apex bank.

The $1.8bn demand by the CBN followed alleged forex remittances infraction by MTN.

Instead of yielding to the demand, MTN, through its lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), sued the CBN and the Attorney General of the Federation before the Federal High Court in Lagos.

The telecoms firm challenged the powers of the defendants to make the monetary demand from it and prayed the court to restrain them from coming after it. It urged the court to hold that the CBN’s $8.1bn demand was “illegal, oppressive, abusive, unauthorised and unconstitutional.”

Read also: MTN Scraps IPO Plan over Dispute with Nigerian Government

However, at the December 4, 2018 proceedings in the case, both the CBN and MTN opted for an out-of-court settlement.

It was disclosed at their return on Thursday that the duo had finally reached an agreement.

Representing MTN, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN)  presented before the court a document containing the terms of the settlement between the parties, which he said, they would love the court to endorse as its judgment on the case.

Mr Henry Ejiofor, who stood in for CBN’s lead counsel, Mr Seyi Sowemimo (SAN), confirmed the position.

Counsel for the AGF, Olanike Idenu, did not oppose the application by MTN and CBN but urged the court to strike out the name of the AGF from the suit.

MTN had urged the court to declare that “the 1st defendant’s decision in its letter of August 28, 2018, with Ref No GBD/GOV/COM/DGF/118/121, addressed to the plaintiff and titled, ‘Investigation into the remittance of foreign exchange on the basis of the illegal capital importation certificates issued to MTN Nigeria Communications Limited’ were reached in breach of the plaintiff’s right to fair hearing.”

It also urged the court to void a September 3, 2018 letter written to it by the AGF, demanding $8.1bn as “penalties for the offence of ‘infraction of forex remittances’.”

MTN had requested the court to “restrain the 1st and 2nd defendants from giving effect to the decisions, demands and directives in their letters of August 28, 2018, and September 3, 2018, respectively.” The CBN has since countered the claims, and insist on the refund of $8.1bn to the Federal Government.

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